October 28, 2021
History is littered with supposed Christian leaders who brought great dishonor to God. Believers are shocked, and the world mocks God when sinful behaviors are uncovered from those we have looked to as spiritual leaders. (And they always will be disclosed because a lack of integrity always manifests itself. Always.)
We should not be surprised at the revelation of false teachers and unfaithful leaders. It is one of Satan's most effective means to seek to discredit God.
The Apostle Paul was continually concerned about this. He lived with a holy, healthy fear of personally dishonoring God and harming the Kingdom. He challenges other leaders regarding this and speaks as instruction and warning for the true church about what should be seen in a godly ministry. This teaching found in 2 Corinthians exhorts us and helps us evaluate true from false teachers around us.
What must we be, and what should we see in faithful leaders who serve the King and His Kingdom?
In everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger (2 Corinthians 6:4-5).
Hirelings flee. A true spiritual leader does not run when things get hard. Like their Firstborn Leader, they are willing to go all the way to the cross. The calling on their lives and the compelling mission they've embraced leads them to keep going even in the most challenging circumstances.
In purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love. (2 Corinthians 6:6).
Commendable leaders live what they preach. They do not ask of others what they are unwilling to do themselves. The strongest evidence of their faithfulness is the fruit of God's Spirit seen in their daily living.
In the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left (2 Corinthians 6:7).
Their work is not trivial or consumed with sideways energy. They don't waste time on foolish agendas. They preach the word, in the power of God, using spiritual weapons for the spiritual battle for the Kingdom, for they know the time is short and the lives of people are at stake.
A DIVIDED RESPONSE
By glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known (2 Corinthians 8-9).
It is never a good sign if everyone—even a godless world—thinks a man is wonderful. "Beware when all men speak well of you," Jesus said, "for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way" (Luke 6:26).
If a leader follows the Master, much of the world will hate them and seek to discredit them. But those who know Christ and understand the battle we face will love a genuine leader greatly. An authentic spiritual leader will be both honored and dishonored.
LIFE-SUSTAINED AND LIFE-GIVING MINISTRY
As dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich (2 Corinthians 6:9-10).
These faithful leaders should be dying because of the conditions they face, yet they are continually sustained and even rejoicing because they are filled with the life of God. He is sufficient in everything.
Even though they may have little of the world's riches, they are bringing the true riches of eternity to those they help. Like Mary Poppin's bottomless suitcase, they live and serve out of a never-ending supply.
A CONTENTED HEART
As having nothing yet possessing all things (2 Corinthians 6:10).
A true man of God is content. They may minister in obscurity and with few of this world's riches or accolades. But there is a settled joy, for they know they are heirs of the Kingdom. They possess everything that matters and lasts and have all the resources of heaven at their disposal. Every need provided, every satisfaction enjoyed, for those who have Christ have it all.
Father, thank You for helping us understand who to follow. Let us not be deceived by wolves in sheep's clothing. Never let us follow those who are not willing to follow You. And, by Your grace, make us leaders who carry the marks of a surrendered, faithful, ministering life.
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